Around 300 new strains of saltwater-tolerant rice have been planted on 670 hectares of experimental alkali fields in China to identify viable varieties that can be grown on formerly barren lands, according to the Saline-Alkali Tolerant Rice Research and Development Center.

Initial tests with different strains already revealed a significant difference in average yields. Crops in test fields in Qingdao, Shandong province produce around 10 metric tons per hectare in a single harvest year whereas crops planted in salty-alkaline land in Daqing, Heilongjiang province produced only 3.1 tons per hectare. 

 

According to Zhang Guodong, the Center's Deputy Director, lower yields can be attributed to factors such as the impact of natural disasters and the incompatibility of some varieties with the local environment. He also emphasized that a strain of rice has to produce about an average of 4.5 tons per hectare for it to be considered for mass cultivation. 

 

The Center plans to submit seven qualified rice strains to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs this year. Should the strains pass evaluation, certificates will then be obtained for large-scale cultivation nationwide. The commercial cultivation of saltwater-tolerant varieties will cover around one-fifth of the 100 million hectares of saltwater soil in the country, which has the potential for rice cultivation.

 

For more information, read the news article in China News Service.